Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Lowering the cost of healthcare

Prompted by the great Jay Tea over at Wizbang, I'd like to illustrate how I, personally, have reduced the cost of healthcare for my family. It required some cooperation from the folks involved - my boss, my doctor, my wife, and my son - but you'll see the dramatic impact on my cash flow, my savings, and my retirement.

It all started when my employer offered a high-deductible PPO with a $5000 deductible. He's a very smart guy, so he made it easy to switch; he kicks in enough premium so that the normal PPO costs $5000 more a year.

So, having joined the high deductible plan, here's the deal...

  • If I have a disaster medical year, I'll go through the whole $5000. After that, everything's covered 100%, except prescriptions which are covered 80%. I'm no worse off than if I had just paid the extra $5000 in healthcare premium and paid a copay every time I went to the doctor.
  • That's not what happened the last two years though. The last two years, I've spent $3600 less than my deductible. That money stays in my HSA and is mine forever. At retirement it behaves exactly like 401(K) money. This has the opposite effect that the Flexible Spending Account (FSA) has. With the FSA, if you don't spend the money, you lose it. With the HSA, if you don't spend the money, you keep it. Big difference.
  • I now care how much a specialist charges. This is where you need a good doctor. You need your primary care physician to help you figure out whether a given specialist is worth, say, $60 a visit more than the next guy. He needs to remember that you pay for prescriptions out-of-pocket, so he needs to present options for the drugs you buy. Bingo. This is the free market component that has been missing from the US healthcare system. Some of my doctor's patients actually care how much he charges, and he has to adjust. I now know which antibiotics are cheaper, and if he thinks they'll work, I try those first. I use lots of generics. I am forcing the healthcare industry to compete on price for my business, the way I do with everything else.
More and more people are taking advantage of this. Doctors and drug companies will have to be competitive.

You know, just like the rest of us.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Like I said... we're winning

An editorial in a major US newspaper, written by two columnists just back from Iraq who, in their own words, have been "two analysts who have harshly criticized the Bush administration’s miserable handling of Iraq", reports the following:

  • We are finally getting somewhere in Iraq, at least in military terms.
  • The soldiers and marines told [the columnists] they feel that they now have a superb commander in Gen. David Petraeus; they are confident in his strategy, they see real results, and they feel now they have the numbers needed to make a real difference.
  • ...civilian fatality rates are down roughly a third since the surge began — though they remain very high, underscoring how much more still needs to be done.
  • A local mayor told [the columnists] his greatest fear was an overly rapid American departure from Iraq.
  • The American high command assesses that more than three-quarters of the Iraqi Army battalion commanders in Baghdad are now reliable partners (at least for as long as American forces remain in Iraq).
  • A major factor in the sudden change in American fortunes has been the outpouring of popular animus against Al Qaeda and other Salafist groups, as well as (to a lesser extent) against Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army.
  • The result has been that in the last six months Iraqis have begun to turn on the extremists and turn to the Americans for security and help. The most important and best-known example of this is in Anbar Province, which in less than six months has gone from the worst part of Iraq to the best (outside the Kurdish areas).
  • ...there is enough good happening on the battlefields of Iraq today that Congress should plan on sustaining the effort at least into 2008.
So, what's your guess? Big points to anyone gutsy enough to guess that the New York Times editorial page thinks we're winning. That's good news, and it's long overdue.

Wake up, Congress. There's a reason why you're polling worse than Nixon on the day he left office. There's a reason why you're approval rating is only half that of Bush. It's because you refuse to declare that this war is right, this war is necessary, and that we will never, ever abandon the Iraqis to the fate that the shortsighted are calling for.

You see, that's not governing by polls; that's leadership. Try it.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Glenn Reynolds running for the Supreme Court.

Welcome to the gang at NewsBusters

NewsBusters commenters - welcome!

It occurred to me that my commenting over at that exceptional site has given people the wrong idea about where I stand on a variety of issues. I agree with so much of the good work done over there that I don't comment unless I have something useful to add. As a result, I tend to only comment when I think someone's overreacting or misinterpreting something that I see as 'not a big deal'. As you can see from this thread, at least one member of the US military got the impression that I am ok with that 'support the troops but not the war' crap. So, just to be abundantly clear...

I support the troops, I support the war, and I try every day to get more people to do the same.

Saddam should have been removed in 1992. He should have been removed by President Clinton, and President Clinton knew it. Making regime change in Iraq US policy happened under Clinton. Clinton just never did it.

Bush did.

Our armed forces have accomplished unprecedented, extraordinary things in Iraq. This war effort has been a success like none other in our history. There have been fewer casualties on our side than ever before in an effort of this magnitude.

There is a belief by a substantial portion of our leadership, and of much of the American public, that the war is not going well, and that we are failing. The truth is that we have never, in our history, made so much progress in so little time rebuilding a country to which the concept of true freedom is so foreign.

With so much success, and with so much at stake, the idea that so many people want to give up now sickens and frightens me.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Ward Churchill...


About time, couldn't happen to a nicer guy, don't let the door hitcha and all that.

Tuesday Morning Gorge

The New River Gorge, near Fayetteville, WV. Date unknown.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Maybe Iran isn't that big a threat after all

InstaPundit is reporting that Iran is going broke. Good.

Now, that requires a little explanation. If you're reading this, you need to understand, as clearly as possible, that I wish no ill-will, discomfort, or harm upon the Iranian people. I truly wish them the best of luck, and I hope and pray that one day, they receive the freedom that so many of them so desperately desire.

The Iranian theocracy is a bunch of oppressive thugs, and I am delighted about anything that threatens their power. They are putting their entire country at risk because of their obsession with nukes.

I fear that the only way the theocracy falls is if we give it a shove. Unfortunately, there aren't many Americans out there who care enough about the Iranian people to make the financial investment in a military solution - after all, we still need universal health care, right? It would be an expensive, messy conflict, and it would take a long time. Lots of Americans aren't really into expensive, messy things that take a long time.

We're a fast-food society. When, after a year, Baghdad wasn't quite like Palm Springs yet, Americans started running for the proverbial exit, screaming 'incompetence'.


...if you're ever robbing a K9 Unit Training facility...

...and while you're there, the cops and the dogs show up for work...

...for the love of God... don't run.

"For anyone to try to run from a whole unit of canines, it’s just a no-win situation,“ [Hall County Sheriff’s Sgt. Kiley] Sargent said.

H/T InstaPundit.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq has been captured

I've held off on posting about this because so often, the capture of high-value targets is rumored, and found not to be true. However, it seems that this time, we got the guy in Iraq that has been reportedly in communication with Al-Zawahiri regarding strategy. So, in summary:

We've tricked Al Qaeda into fighting us in Iraq, rather than in New York or DC. If this isn't one of the smartest things you've ever heard of, you've obviously forgotten what it was like to watch planes slamming into buildings full of people all morning. I haven't forgotten.

We are capturing, killing, and destroying Al Qaeda in Iraq. They are not capturing, killing, or destroying us in New York and DC. This means, contrary to popular belief, that we are winning. That is, unless you define losing as "spending money to save western civilization, rather than on universal health care".

If you think that we can just walk away in Iraq, and that nothing bad will happen as a result, then you are not qualified to lead this country. Yeah, I know, I just eliminated all of the Democrats. Not my fault. All they have to do is tell me how important it is that we win, and what the costs will be if we give up.

You know, like Bush keeps doing. Because he understands the consequences of failure. They must just not be as smart as he is.

Victor Davis Hanson agrees.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I called this a long time ago

If this is true, as I thought was the case back when this whole thing got started, we Republicans screwed up a huge opportunity to keep an eye on our ports by forcing the breakdown of the Dubai ports deal.

Congressional Job Approval at 14%

Bad news for Bush... his approval rating is at 34%.

Of course, according to Zogby, that's more than twice the approval rating of Congress.

Congressional job approval is at 14%, which is lower than Nixon's, on the day he left office.

I attribute this to a number of things. First, I think that Senators and Congressmen know a lot of people personally - probably significantly more than the average Joe. This, along with the Senators and Congressmen themselves, their staff, former Senators and Congressmen, and the Nancy Pelosi Fan Club, could account for the 14%. The other 86% is made up of primarily two groups; those who are irate at Congress for giving up in Iraq, and those who are irate at Congress for not giving up in Iraq.

Unemployment is under 5%, the Dow is over 14,000, we haven't been attacked on US soil in over 5 years, and we're absolutely incensed at our government on every level.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Blogging has been light I was traveling this week.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

This Just In - "The Surge" Is Working

Kim Priestap at Wizbang points us to the words of Omar Fadhil, who, unlike the politicians in DC currently scurrying around trying to figure out a way to surrender, is actually living through the surge in Iraq, and says it's working.

The courage of Iraqis, fighting for their freedom, stands in stark contrast to the cowardice of our Congress, who follow rather than lead.

Shock! America Thinks MSM has Liberal Bias

Both Instapundit and NewsBusters are reporting that a new Rasmussen Reports poll indicates that a plurality of those surveyed (39%) believe that the mainstream media has a liberal bias.

As we've seen here, mainstream media figures donate much more to the Democrats than they do the Republicans. And now, this poll seems to indicate that despite their protests, and despite those on the left insisting that the press is a shill for the Bush administration, the bias shines through for 39% of the people.

So, why not just go on record? I have. It's not hard. Read these posts. You'll get a very clear indication of what I believe in (winning wars, crushing despots, low taxes and high growth), and a clear indication of what I think is ridiculous and bad for the country (bad reporting, hanging the Iraqis out to dry, pretending the economy is bad, creating big new government programs, using taxes to reduce productivity).

Fine, so some liberals won't like what I have to say. Welcome to America. Why can't the mainstream press take the same attitude?

Why can't we all admit, once and for all, that there is no straight news, and that all news is opinion journalism?

After all, the public has already figured it out.

AP Breathlessly Reports "New" Bin Laden Video

One would expect the AP to rush to air with a video of Osama Bin Laden. After all, he is, to the terrorist sympathizers, a modern-day Robin Hood, unable to be defeated by the evil minions of the globalist, capitalist west. And, to the rest of us normal people, he's one of those heads that would look really good on somebody's wall. (Yes, I just advocated the decapitation of Osama Bin Laden. Deal with it).

One would also, however, expect that the AP would make sure the video wasn't 5 years old.


'By Him in Whose Hands my life is! I would love to attack and be martyred, then attack again and be martyred, then attack again and be martyred.'

Those are the words of Osama Bin Laden in a short clip from a longer As Sahab video obtained this morning by

I, too, would love it if there were some way that, in the course of multiple, impotent attacks, Bin Laden could be violently sent to his grave 3 times.

As I've theorized previously, however, I'm pretty sure he's already in Hell.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Clinton, Edwards Discuss Excluding Minor Candidates from Debates

ABC has the video here, and some of the quotables in the audio captured by FOX News are right here.

Edwards says, "We should try to have a more serious and a smaller group." Clinton agrees, saying, "We've got to cut the number" and "they're not serious." She also says that she thought their campaigns had already tried to limit the debates and say, "We've gotta get back to it."

You have to hand it to the establishment Democrats - they do a very good job at keeping the outsiders out. Ask Ralph Nader.

Dennis Kucinich's camp is said to be outraged. I feel for them. Could you imagine? I mean, knowing your candidate has absolutely no chance at winning is bad enough... but now big, bad John Edwards isn't even going to let your guy have the microphone?

In fact, Dennis himself is outraged:

"This is a serious matter and I'm calling him on it," Kucinich, an Ohio congressman, said in a telephone interview Friday. "Whispering, trying to rig an election, then denying what's going on and making excuses. It all reflects a consistent lack of integrity."

Hey, Dennis. This is a serious time. Please sit down and be quiet. The adults are talking.

As I said previously, this wide-open field is going to make for some absolutely hilarious politician-watching (that is, if you forget for a minute that Western Civilization pretty much hangs in the balance...).

Why I Continue to Support the War in Iraq

There is a notion among many on the left that the instant the Americans leave, there will be widespread, caring, loving, sensitive PEACE in Iraq.

How naive.

...and if you believe that it's our fault that Iraq will be worse off once we leave...

that's all the more reason to stay, and finish the job.

Just what, exactly, is a Liberal?

Once upon a time, a Liberal was synonymous with one who truly believed in freedom.

A Liberal would be furious at the suggestion of our government preventing prayer.

A Liberal would be irate at at the idea of our government taking away our guns.

A Liberal would pay any price, and make any sacrifice, to lift up the downtrodden, oppressed citizens of another country being held hostage by brutal dictators.

A Liberal would despise taxes.

A Liberal would ask that the government kindly stay out of the way, and give us the freedom to succeed or fail on our own merits.

A Liberal would reject the idea that the government knows what's best for us.

By these descriptions, I'm a liberal.

And yet, in today's world, I'm a moderate conservative, trying to protect my country from Liberals who would remove our right to say a prayer, take our guns, abandon the Iraqis to certain genocide, and confiscate as much of our income as possible, for the purpose of protecting us from ourselves.

Hey, Liberals! Wake up! You've become everything you warned us about.

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Harry Reid's Non-Answer

Jake Tapper from ABC News asked a good question.

Harry Reid wouldn't answer.

Hey, Harry? If you don't care what happens to the Iraqis, I wish you'd just say so.

Class Action Lawyer Flips

So, are you a fan of class-action lawsuits? The common man, rising up against evil corporate America? Well, think about this while you're enjoying your 3-dollar-off coupon from your multi-million dollar settlement:

A former managing partner of the Milberg Weiss law firm on Monday pleaded guilty to conspiring to pay kickbacks to ­clients who served as plaintiffs in the firm's class-action securities lawsuits.

David Bershad, who had primary responsibility for the firm's financial affairs, admitted in a signed statement that for nearly 20 years Milberg Weiss partners recruited investors who took kickbacks in exchange for serving as a ready supply of named plaintiffs whenever the firm wanted to file class-action lawsuits.

Mr Bershad also said in the statement that he and six other partners contributed to secret funds that Mr Bershad kept in his office to pay off the recruits and that they counselled the plaintiffs to lie to conceal the payments.

Don't fall for this "people against the powerful" garbage. They lawyers, and their handpicked collaborators, are the only ones who ever get paid. You just get USED.

The No Surrender Caucus

This NRO article puts things in perspective:

One Senate aide summarizes: “The media is going crazy about the ‘growing rift’ in the GOP. But on the Webb vote yesterday, seven Republicans voted with the Democrats. Oddly enough, that’s the same number that voted with the Dems in the spring. And even though some are growing impatient, the high-visibility critics — Lugar, Domenici, etc. — haven’t turned around and voted with the Democrats this week.”

Count me among those who fell for the press reports that the GOP sky was falling regarding winning in Iraq. Shame on me. I know better.

The No Surrender Caucus. Sign me up!

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission Has Problems

This is not good.

Al Qaeda Roundup

Thanks to PowerLine for analysis of the Zawahiri video message to the Muslims of Afghanistan. They are right, in my opinion, that the message shows weakness - in a number of ways.

They note that he's not calling for the overthrow of Musharraf, but instead calling them to Jihad in Afghanistan. I also can't help but ask, if Bin Laden is doing just great, why haven't we seen him? I think he's dead. Despite the western nattering about his martyrdom being a recruiting tool for the Islamists, I believe that when they finally admit that he's dead, it will be terribly demoralizing for the Jihadists.

There is one more important thing to be understood from this message. He's calling them to Afghanistan. Afghanistan! You wanna know why? Because unlike those of us in the West, THEY DON'T CARE WHEN THEY WIN. That puts them at a distinct advantage over those who want to pretend it's all over by the next election cycle so we can get to work on a new government healthcare program! They lost Afghanistan YEARS ago and THEY DON'T CARE because whether they win now, or in 1000 years, they believe they are destined to win. Think about that. Can you think of anyone in our government that understands that threat?

I can think of one guy - and his supporters are running for cover because THEY'RE up for reelection a year-and-a-half from now and HE'S not ending the war quickly enough.

No wonder the Jihadists think we're weak.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Deficit Falls AGAIN

Drudge is reporting that the budget deficit has dropped... again... like it always does when you have substantial, meaningful tax cuts.

Bush pushed for them, Bush got them passed, Bush should get credit.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

The "Militant Minority"

Jay Tea at Wizbang is questioning the "minority" that advocates violence in the name of Islam.

Tuesday Morning Rainbow

Akaka Falls, The Big Island, HI, August 2005. We were lucky enough to see a stunning rainbow at the base.

Yeah, that's unique all right

"It is unique for all those who are connected with this court to experience a situation where the juror is suspected of listening to a MP3 player under her Islamic headgear."

Monday, July 9, 2007

Barone on Russia and China

Michael Barone seems to think that China is easier to deal with than Russia.

The Chinese leaders have evidently moved the rogue North Korean regime in the direction of curbing its nuclear weapons programs. Apparently, they recognize that Kim Jong Il is a danger to China as well as to us.

Russia is different. Putin seems to be persisting in his irrational opposition to our decision to put missile defense installations in Poland and the Czech Republic. As Bush has pointed out, it’s obvious that these are no threat to Russia — they’re clearly designed to protect Europe against an Iranian missile attack. Putin’s apparent desire to assert some kind of hegemony over what were once the Soviet Union’s Eastern European satellites seems delusional.

But one man’s delusions can move national policy in a country where the former KGB officer seems to have consolidated power in his own person. He appears in complete control of the government, which in turn controls the oil industry and the news media. And while he has reiterated that he will respect the law, which prevents him from running for reelection in 2008, he seems to be singlehandedly picking his successor.

Read the whole thing.

Al-Sadr has left Iraq

Moqtada Al-Sadr has fled Iraq for the safety of Iran.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Novak Comes Clean

Bob Novak has come clean.

Friday, July 6, 2007

The Democrat Congress, and Your Tax Dollars at Work

So, we've had a new US Congress for the past 6 months or so, Democrat controlled, and they have bravely tackled the most important business of the day...

Finding over 300 different reasons to investigate the Bush administration.

Thank God we're not at war, aren't nearly bankrupting Social Security, aren't nearly bankrupting Medicare, aren't under attack by Muslim extremists, and aren't hemorrhaging cash to take care of illegal immigrants.

If any of THAT were the case, we wouldn't have time for all of these investigations. But since everything's fine, and there's nothing to worry about, investigate away, Democrats!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

If you're going to cheat on your wife...

...and she works in a DNA lab...

...throw away your underpants.

NHL Roundup

Jeremy Roenick is retiring.

Edmonton says they had a deal with Michael Nylander. The Caps think otherwise.

Joe Sakic is ready.

I found cheap gas!

See! Look! If we just have policies like France, we'll have cheap gas! Wait, no, that's not right... well, maybe if we were more like Germany! No, I guess not. Well, maybe if we were more like Iran. And Venezuela! Yes! Let's pressure the evil Bush Administration to... get rid of all of the... corporate... environmental regulations so... we can make as much... as we need...

Oh, never mind.

Ahhh... Hollywood.

Looks like Oliver Stone won't get to realize his dream of giving Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the Hollywood treatment... Stone was told that the oppressive Iranian Theocrat considers him "part of the opposition in the U.S., but opposition in the U.S. is a part of the Great Satan."

Mehdi Kalhor, media adviser to the president, also added that “We believe that the American cinema lacks culture and art.”

Ouch. Stone retorted by saying, in a statement, “I have been called a lot of things, but never a great satan. I wish the Iranian people well, and only hope their experience with an inept, rigid ideologue president goes better than ours.”

Hey, Oliver, if you have such great hope, why not move your entire film operation to Tehran? You can find out just exactly what "rigid ideologue" means. No? Not an option? That's right. Because the President of the United States does a much better job of staying out of your way, and letting you do your thing, than an Iranian theocrat ever could.

Not that you could ever say so. A vital component of Hollywood self-importance is to take an occasional break from giving each other awards to pontificate about what a terrible country this is.

We Need More of This


Just think... the world would be a much better place if we each did this just once!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Gore son busted

Drudge is reporting that Al Gore's son has been jailed for drugs & 100
mph DUI...

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

NHL Free Agency Update

Radek Bonk to Nashville from Montreal

Robert Lang to the Hawks from Detroit

Michal Handzus to LA from the Hawks
Kyle Calder to LA from Detroit
Ladislav Nagy to LA from Dallas

Todd Bertuzzi to Anaheim from Detroit

Roman Hamrlik to Montreal from Calgary

Michael Nylander to the Caps from the Rangers

Darryl Sydor to the Penguins from Dallas
Petr Sykora to the Penguins from Edmonton

So far it looks like Pittsburgh and LA are making the biggest splash. Full list is right here.

Tuesday Morning Contemplation

Black Sand Beach, southwest Maui, August 2005. Featuring the Reality-boy. Photography by the Reality-Wife, although I think technically she was still the Reality-Fiance for a few days yet.

Tuesday Morning Yard Work

My backyard, western suburbs of Chicago, May 2007.

Monday, July 2, 2007

President Bush Commutes Sentence of Scooter Libby


If ever in the entire Bush administration's history, there was a bigger political no-brainer than this, I can't imagine what it would be.

I mean, what's the worst that could happen to Bush? I suppose now the left will really start to hate him.

Reformed Jihadist Explains Extremism

I've always wondered why moderate Islam cannot reclaim dominance over the radicals, and stop the violence. Here's why, according to a reformed jihadist:

But the main reason why radicals have managed to increase their following is because most Muslim institutions in Britain just don't want to talk about theology.

They refuse to broach the difficult and often complex truth that Islam can be interpreted as condoning violence against the unbeliever - and instead repeat the mantra that Islam is peace and hope that all of this debate will go away.

This has left the territory open for radicals to claim as their own. I should know because, as a former extremist recruiter, I repeatedly came across those who had tried to raise these issues with mosque authorities only to be banned from their grounds.

Every time this happened it felt like a moral and religious victory for us because it served as a recruiting sergeant for extremism.

...and this...

If our country is going to take on radicals and violent extremists, Muslim scholars must go back to the books and come forward with a refashioned set of rules and a revised understanding of the rights and responsibilities of Muslims whose homes and souls are firmly planted in what I'd like to term the Land of Co-existence.

The sooner the better.

NHL Free Agent Signings

The free agent signing list is available here. Of Note:

Ryan Smyth to Colorado from the Islanders

Scott Gomez and Chris Drury to the Rangers from New Jersey and Buffalo, respectively

Paul Kariya to St. Louis from Nashville

Sunday, July 1, 2007

More on the London/Glasgow Bombings

Jay Tea at Wizbang echoes some of my thoughts on the incompetence of the Islamists. He also wonders why we can't seem to call them Islamists. How many more innocent people have to die (or, in the case of the last few days, become mildly injured but really-nothing-serious) before we get the us-versus-them mentality that we need to win this war?

To the politically correct media... they are using you, they are manipulating you, they are laughing at you, and they would gladly behead you if they thought it would cause other media outlets to call them 'Asian' instead of what they really are - an evil perversion of Islam. Wake up.